High Springs to get monoclonal antibody site

Alachua County will have a devoted monoclonal antibody treatment site beginning Tuesday, according to a Monday announcement from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The new location in High Springs will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week at Fellowship Church. The governor’s office said the site will have capacity to serve more than 300 patients a day free of charge.

The Alachua County site comes amid a flurry of state openings for the treatment, which clinic trials have shown to dramatically reduce the chances of severe illness in COVID-positive patients, if it’s administered early.

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“That is a tool in the toolbox that really needs to be used,” DeSantis said last week at the opening of a location in Orlando, noting the treatment centers complement vaccination efforts. “Monoclonals are safe and have proven to significantly reduce the chance that somebody ends up being hospitalized for COVID.”

In addition to the High Springs location, the state announced a location will open Tuesday in St. Lucie County. That brings the total count to 16 locations spread around Florida.

The success of monoclonal antibody treatment stands in contrast to some other COVID-19 treatments, such as convalescent plasma, the subject of disappointing study results UF Health announced Monday.

Speaking last week in Orlando, DeSantis noted the vast majority of hospitalized patients share two things in common: They are unvaccinated and have not had monoclonal antibody treatments. He said it was a sign that not enough people knew about the option and pointed to the need for expanded access.

UF Health and North Florida Regional Medical Center both offer the treatments in Gainesville.

Monoclonal antibody treatment should be administered within 10 days of exposure to the coronavirus. It is available to anyone 12 years old and above. According to the governor’s office, a standing surgeon general order allows patients to receive the treatment without a prescription or referral.

Fellowship Church is located at 16916 Northwest U.S. Highway 441 in High Springs. The church recently made headlines when the county considered purchasing the multi-million-dollar property as an operations hub in the northwest part of the county.

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